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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


February 28: Roy Keane is a doubt for Saturday's game with a knee problem according to some reports coming out of Manchester. Past experience has shown that this probably means he's not sure if he'll be able to use it on all 11 of our players - he might have to restrict himself to just using his elbow on 3 or 4 of them. Ryan Giggs is also a doubt and Fergie will no doubt be more concerned about having them back for the Panathanaikos game. Andy Cole is suspended - so that just leaves them with the woefully inexperienced Yorke (if he makes it back from World Cup duty for Trinidad), Sheringham and Solskjaer up front.

February 28: Gareth Evans appeared before Leeds magistrates with another man - 20-year-old Andrew Ratcliffe - charged with assault and affray this morning. Evans was remanded on conditional bail and will appear in front of magistrates at Wetherby on March 22.

February 28: Robbie Keane and Ian Harte missed out on further caps for Ireland tonight as the Republic's game was postponed due to snow on the terraces at Lansdowne Road.

February 28: Nige and Rio had a half each for England at Villa Park tonight. Rio appeared from the start, and although England conceded a lot of possession, the midfield did a solid job protecting the defence and they were seldom troubled. Rio used the ball well when he got it and brought it out of defence with great confidence. There were wholesale changes at half-time, with Nige replacing David James in goal. On the whole he didn't have much to do - but he still looks a bit worried when it comes to taking kicks - a legacy of his groin injury no doubt. However he did manage to save a penalty after Ugo Ehiogu made the faintest of contacts on a Spanish striker, so hopefully SGE will come away from the game with positive thoughts about him (the big question being - was Seaman left out to give him time to recover from conceding 6 goals on Sunday or because SGE has already decided that he'll still be number 1?).

February 28: The reserves lost 0-1 at home to Everton last night after Danny Milosevic conceded a penalty by bringing down one of their defenders. Roy Aitken wasn't that happy with the performance and dropped very strong hints that some of the team might find themselves released when the end of the season comes round unless they show a bit more application. On the positive side, Harry Kewell played for 80 minutes to continue his recuperation. But will he start on Saturday???

February 27: Robbie Keane thinks that he could play abroad again in the future - but not "for a good few years yet" thankfully. DOL is apparently "a great manager who knows exactly what he wants from his players and is fantastic at letting them know it." It's always been clear that communicating with the players is one thing our "naive young manager" excels at, and I'd love to have a tape recording of some of his comments after a few of our less than great performances earlier this year :-)

February 27: Mark Viduka says: "At every club I have been at I have finished top scorer in that league. That is one of the targets I set myself, although this season I have slipped behind Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. But I have not given up yet."

February 27: "I have to say this team is better than any side Leeds have ever had. And it can get better as well!" That's what David Batty thinks anyway. He's really talking about recent years, and compares the current squad favourably to 1992's title-winners, but leaves the Revie team out of it since his memories of those days aren't as extensive. Batty also sounded a more pessimistic note than might be expected when it came to the side's chances of getting back into the Champions League next year. "Realistically, we are not going to qualify for next season's Champions League through the league, so we may as well give this our best shot," he said. But he did add: "No one expected us to get this far - I certainly didn't - but we are enjoying it and we will be doing our best to stay in the competition for as long as we can."

February 27: Trial update: today revolved around dental records. The bite marks on Sarfraz Najeib were an excellent match for a cast that was taken of Paul Clifford's teeth, a dental expert said that it was very unlikely that the marks could have been made by anybody else. An earlier witness who had also positively identified Jonathan Woodgate had said that Lee Bowyer had bitten the student's face. Further information from yesterday's evidence: although several people identified Woodgate and Bowyer from a video identity parade, only one person picked out any of the other defendants. The trial continues tomorrow.

February 27: The Bratfud game is now likely to be played on Sunday May 13 with a 3pm kick-off.

February 27: Not a great night for the two Leeds lads in the U-21 game. Spain ran out 4-0 winners at St Andrews: although Robbo was involved in a bit of poor communication with his centreback for the second, he couldn't really be blamed for the total lack of defending that caused the other 3. Smithy was booked late on, but looked good in patches, linking up well several times with debutant Shola Ameobi. Wilko out! Taylor in!

February 26: The Bradford game has been pencilled in for next Saturday or Sunday, subject to approval by the West Yorkshire Police. The game had to be rescheduled from April 16 due to the clash with the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and with this weekend clear between the two remaining Champions League games it would seem an obvious time to play it. Of course, they'll probably insist on keeping it back to some time when we have to play 5 games in 12 days, but you can hope...

February 26: Early injury news or smokescreen ahead of Saturday's game: Ryan Giggs reckons he'll miss the visit to Elland Road and possibly the tie with Panathanaikos the following week. Coming in between a series of internationals and a vital Champions League game, and with the league all but sewn up, it would be tempting to Fergie to send out a less than full team on Saturday morning. But you don't achieve the success he has without being totally committed to winning, and even if they leave out 3 or 4 of their first choice players we'll still have a tough job on to get the points.

February 26: Trial update. The main evidence given in court today seemed to surround the willingness or otherwise of the Leeds players to take part in identity parades. Woodgate initially agreed but later declined to take part in an identity parade over two weeks after the incident: Bowyer also declined to take part, both men citing the substantial press coverage and the number of times their photos had appeared on TV and in the papers as being likely to unconsciously bias any attempt to pick them out of a line-up. A police officer who conducted a video identity parade told the court that he had followed an incorrect procedure: he had confirmed to the witnesses that they had picked out the players from a selection of video clips before they had made a statement, in contravention of an Appeal Court ruling.

February 26: The reserves are in action at home to Everton on Tuesday night. A couple of the first team squad are likely to make an appearance, including Jon Woodgate who is close to recovering from his heel injury and maybe even Gary Kelly, who is making a faster than expected recovery from his op.

February 26: Great timing department. Gareth Evans and another man have been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray. A 30-year-old man was attacked outside the White Swan pub in Rothwell in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the pair will face magistrates on Wednesday morning. Evans was thrown in at the deep end with his debut against Munich earlier this season but has been back with the reserves for much of the year.

February 25: It's not exactly football, but all true sports fans will be saddened to hear of the death of the great Sir Donald Bradman at the age of 92 in Adelaide this weekend. The stats - his test match batting average of 99.94 remains 40 runs better than anyone else has ever achieved - would say that he is the greatest batsman ever. The manner in which he conducted himself both as a player and subsequently as a writer and adminstrator, and the universal praise for the man from both team-mates and opponents alike mark him as one of the greatest individuals in any sport.

February 25: Euro-news: Radzinski and Koller found the target for Anderlecht on Saturday - but their goals were much needed since they equalised a 2-goal lead held by 5th-placed Westerlo. Club Brugge closed the gap on leaders Anderlecht to 2 points in the Jupiler League. Lowly Verona did brilliantly to score 3 goals in the Stadio Olimpico, but Lazio's 5 goals leaves them still 2 points adrift of Juve in 3rd place. Steve McManaman aggravated a hamstring injury that rules him out of Sven Goran Erickson's first England squad as Real drew 2-2 at 2nd-placed Deportivo. That leaves the European Champions 4 points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga and SGE with his first batch of selection problems: McManaman, Dyer, Parlour and Carrick pulling out means that there's very little midfield width available to him, and surely he can't go back to Paul Ince or Dennis Wise to fill a hole, however temporary...maybe it's time to call up Danny Mills as an attacking right back :-)

February 25: DOL says that the Premier League should be more flexible in allowing teams that are playing in Europe on a Tuesday to move their weekend games back to the Friday night, allowing the teams more time to recover and travel. Sounds like a perfectly sensible idea to me, unlike when Fergie said it when it was typical ManU, asking for everyone else to change just to help them out. DOL's suggestion is, in contrast, well-balanced and to the benefit of the English game as a whole :-)

February 25: It may be five years too late and playing for a team from the wrong side of the Pennines, but Gary McAllister finally picked up a League Cup Winners medal in Cardiff today. Macca came on as a substitute, then netted the first penalty for Liverpool as they won the first major bit of silverware of the season. Robbie Fowler scored a superb opener, but Birmingham equalised from the spot deep into 2nd half injury time, before a goalless extra time lead to a shoot-out.

February 25: Be careful what you wish for department. DOL is hoping for an all-English quarter-final in the Champions League - and he'd like it to be us taking on Manchester United! "It would be great for English football if we got United and if Arsenal also reach the last eight," the manager said. Actually I think I'd prefer to see the all-English tie being Arsenal and Man U, with us taking our chances against a European team. We certainly don't want to meet a team that could be 5-1 up against Arsenal after 35 minutes. Err...hold on...we've got them next Saturday. Let's hope that Yorke loses his scoring boots halfway over the Pennines.

February 25: DOL apparently gave Rio a half-time kicking for the mistake that let in Spurs for their first goal. "Rio still has plenty to learn and I reminded him of that fact at half-time in the nicest way possible. He has been outstanding for us but it's not the first mistake he has made since joining us." DOL is never one to mince his words when it comes to defensive screw-ups as Lucas, Woody and Nige will no doubt be able to tell Rio.

February 24: DOL claimed that Leeds were worthy of the win - and GG surprisingly agreed with him. Rebrov's occasional shots and gift-wrapped Ferdinand goals apart, Spurs presented a negligible threat coming forward, and but for some good work by the experienced Sol Campbell, some great saves from Neil Sullivan and entirely creditable performances from Ledley King and Alton Thelwell, it could have been a much more convincing result.

February 24: Whoop-de-do! Despite a couple of defensive screw-ups we somehow managed to sort ourselves out and get the three points. Bowyer was superb, Vidooks did great and Keane must be wondering why he's not got a hat-trick. As for Rio's screw-up for the goal, the less said the better. Let's put it down to Family Favorites.

February 24: We're playing Spurs so it must be time for GG to take credit for what DOL's done since he left. "I've still got a lot of friends at Leeds," the bung-taking disloyal Graham said. "I believe I left the club in good shape and David O'Leary has taken them on to a new level. That was always going to happen with the squad he put together and it's great to see their youngsters doing so well." Shame you didn't pay as much attention to the youngsters when you were here George - you might have decided to stay and see what you could do with them.

February 24: Dominic Matteo has said that he intends to stick with Scotland after Erickson apparently tried to persuade the Leeds utility player to join his squad for the friendly against Spain. Matteo's agent said that 2 approaches had been made last week, but Matteo decided to stick with the land of his birth - he could still switch since he's only appeared in a friendly so far but he's sticking with Craig Brown.

February 23: John Charles has become the first foreigner to be inducted into Italy's Football Hall of Fame. Charles played for Juve and Roma and remains hugely popular with the Juve fans to this day.

February 23: DOL says he will remember "the prats who booed and criticised" Leeds earlier on this year. Sorry David, but having seen some truly dreadful performances against Ipswich, Man City, West Ham, Derby and Leicester to name but a few, I'm with the boo-ers. As fans we'll always get behind the team at the start of every game. But when we're presented with lacklustre performances against opposition we should be brushing aside, when we see poor organisation and - worst of all - when we get out-battled at home - we reserve the right to express our opinion in the only way open to us. DOL isn't worried about us finishing top of our group. Well, I suppose you've got to play the rest of the teams eventually but surely we'd prefer to avoid the other group winners for one more round if we can?

February 23: Trial update time. The focus today was on Lee Bowyer's Prada jacket. Blood was found on the jacket that was almost certainly from Shahzad Najeib, brother of the victim of the assault. Blood from another one of the accused, Paul Caveney, was also present. The jacket was scuffed, and the forensic scientist agreed with Lee Bowyer's QC that it was "theoretically possible" that the blood had been picked up from the floor.

February 23: Fingers crossed department. Danny Mills has picked up a suspension for the Real Madrid game, but if he avoids the referee's notebook tomorrow he'll avoid a league suspension for the rest of the season. Mark Viduka is also on 4 yellows in the league, but if they get past the end of February without getting to 5, they just get a stern ticking off by the FA rather than an automatic 1-match ban.

February 23: Money well spent department. Peter Ridsdale reckons that if we get to the final of the Champions League, we'll have made £25 million from our run in the competition. Even if we go out in the quarters, the money that was spent on Rio will be more or less covered by the TV and gate money, and we're left with an enhanced reputation and a star centreback into the bargain. Sound business!

February 23: Lucas Radebe and Alan Smith are both suspended for tomorrow. With Robbie Keane available and Harry Kewell looking fitter every game, Smithy's absence can be covered. Lucas Radebe's absence is more problematic: Jon Woodgate's heel injury continues to trouble him but he may appear and Gary Kelly is still recovering from his op. So that either moves Dominic Matteo back to centreback alongside Rio, with Harry or Jason Wilcox coming in to midfield, or it could be a rare appearance for Alan Maybury at right back with Danny Mills switching back to the centre of defence. For Spurs, GG is without up to eight first-team regulars: Carr, Perry, Thatcher, Armstrong, Smithy's mate Taricco, "Sicknote" Anderton, Leonhardsen and Iversen are all sidelined. Hmmm...coming off the back of a European win and facing an under-strength outfit who haven't been doing too well recently. Time to visit Ladbrokes and lay some money on a home win methinks.... :-)

February 23: So David James is a better bet than Paul Robinson in goal? Well, maybe SGE has left Robbo out so he can actually play him in the U21s rather than see how well he warms the bench. Smithy is also in the U21 side - his international ban only applying to "real" fixtures after his red card in Finland. And as for the continuing presence of porn star Seaman, I'm gobsmacked. And the Neville sisters. Still, Rio's in the squad and after Man U withdraw all of their players because David Beckham dropped his wallet on their feet in the changing room there should be some room for innovation on the field with Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard getting the chance to set up a genuine Cockney pie and mash shop in the middle of the park.

February 22: Matteo for England? With just one Scottish friendly under his belt, rumours are circulating that Sven Goran Erickson might invite Dumfries-born Matteo into his squad for the friendly against Spain next week.

February 22: AS Roma have confirmed an interest in Mark Viduka. After last night's performance, you can probably add a million or two onto the valuation - either way we'd be able to double our money but would we want to sell at all????

February 22: UEFA have (rightly IMHO) confirmed that no steps will be taken to keep Leeds and Galatasaray apart should the Turkish champions qualify for the quarter finals. With each team already restricted to 3 possible opponents by the regulations, it's hard to see how they could bend the rules to keep Leeds apart from the team whose supporters were responsible for the murder of two Leeds fans last year. With the probably alternative ties being long-time rivals Manchester United, or Bayern - the team that the 1975 European Cup Final referee bent over backwards to favour - there's not much in it for us in terms of who we'd get on the worst with.

February 22: DOL said he was happy "to shut a few people up" after yesterday's victory. He added: "Olivier Dacourt translated all that was said in the papers over here this week. This game is not about talking in the papers and I feel we are not a bad little side. I take great pride in what we have achieved because we have come to play a great team like Anderlecht and beaten them."

February 22: Ronnie Hilton - the man behind many on-pitch sing-alongs of the 70s and the voice behind "Marching Altogether" died last night.

February 22: The night after the night before and I've just got back from a beer and curry evening so don't expect too much sense...

February 21: Nige pointed out just what we've achieved in Europe this year. "Arguably we had the 2 hardest groups to come out of and incredibly we've prevailed," he said. How do they do it? "It's a will to win, a togetherness we're a very tight bunch," the England keeper said. Hopefully Sven Goran Erickson will pay more heed to the two superb saves Nige made rather than the slightly dodgy attempt to win the ball when Rio left Koller free to head the ball to give Anderlecht some hope.

February 21: "I'm delighted," said DOL. "A lot of things have been said and we all wanted to go out and do something about it. The best way is to do just that and prove some people wrong, and I think we did that tonight." And with Harry Kewell, Lee Bowyer and Robbie Keane fresh for Saturday's game at White Hart Lane, we've really got to keep this run going with a similar performance there. But whom do you drop??

February 21: So one immediate effect of tonight's win is that the Bradford home match must shift somewhere - it's scheduled for April 16 but we'll now be involved in the Champions League Quarter-Finals on April 17 or 18.

February 21: Magnificent! 4-1 was the final score, and with Real drawing 2-2 in Rome that makes Leeds the first English club to qualify for the quarter-finals. One of the best performances of the season....

February 21: What a first half! A superb cross from Viduka for Smithy to finish off, a great cross from Matteo for Viduka's looping header and Smithy's magnificent run and chip to make it 3-0. And in Rome, Lazio are drawing with Madrid. Fingers crossed it stays this way....

February 21: 4 Leeds fans are being deported from Belgium after allegedly attacking a waiter in Brussels. They were arrested - apparently drunk - in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and put on a plane back to London City Airport. The waiter was taken to hospital but his injuries are not serious.

February 21: DOL reckons that being eliminated from the FA Cup has done us some good, because it meant that we had a blank weekend ahead of tonight's game. DOL had praise for the opposition: "Their home record is fantastic because they have won 10 games on the trot in European competition. You only have to look at the teams who have come here this season to see how good they are. I have only admiration for them." Alan Smith, Eirik Bakke and Danny Mills are all walking a bit of a tightrope tonight - one booking will see them miss the game against Real Madrid. The more cynical among you may be forgiven for wondering if the club might prefer that - missing a very hard-to-win game against Madrid but guaranteeing their availability for Lazio's visit to Elland Road. History is on our side - Leeds are the only English team to beat Anderlecht in Brussels, and Leeds have yet to lose on a visit to Belgium. But as Henry Ford observed, "History is bunk."

February 21: The ambulance paramedic who attended Sarfraz Najeib identified Tony Hackworth as being at the scene of the attack after remembering that he looked very much like one of the stars of American Pie. The paramedic said that Hackworth appeared "genuinely concerned" about the injured student and said that he had tried to stop the attack. Another witness said that she had observed "the hardest kick I had ever seen" aimed at the victim. She said that it was the tallest member of the group who had kicked the man, and that he had knocked her away as she walked past. Another man she later identified as Jonathan Woodgate helped her up as he went past, asking "Are you alright love?" The trial has been adjourned to Friday.

February 20: It's the Smithy and Nicey show! Alan Smith has been talking about his off-pitch activities, visiting hospitals and schools and trying to encourage people to get more out of their time in education. "If you put a lot into your school days, you will get a lot out. That's what I did," he said. Smith added: "I talk to them about my own experiences. It gives them an idea of what footballers do." Maybe they can send a write-up of that particular interview to [insert name of current off-form player here] c/o Elland Road, Leeds LS11 0ES.

February 20: Willem Korsten, having made his bed, is now finding he has to lie in it. Having turned his back on Leeds to join GG at Spurs, he's barely played all season despite having recovered from the injury that dogged his early days there. He said: "I will be keeping my options open. I wanted to play more this season but when you don't play you do have to look further because you have to think of your own future. While there is no doubt in my mind I made the right choice by coming to Spurs, I didn't come to England to play in the reserves." Well, not Spurs reserves anyway...

February 20: The FA have told UEFA that they only want one place in the InterToto Cup this season. Clubs have until the start of March to register an interest, and Leeds and West Ham could be in the hunt - Villa are already declared. So it looks like we'll see just how desperate we are to qualify for Europe by the end of next week.

February 20: Bobby Robson is reported to be ready to launch a bid for Michael Bridges - once the striker proves his fitness. After a great start to his Leeds career, poor form at the start of the season was followed by a long-term injury, and he'll be lucky to take much part in this campaign. Newcastle would look to match the price Leeds paid (and fund much of the rest of Robbie Keane's transfer fee) with a bid of around £5 million in the summer.

February 20: Mark Ford - another one of the didn't-quite-make-it Youth Team from a few years back - has moved from his short spell at Torquay to join Darlington's struggle against relegation.

February 20: Mark Viduka was pretty laid back when questioned about his recent lack of goals. "I am not worried that I am not scoring because I believe my performances have been okay. David O'Leary has not seen the need to take me aside and discuss it. I've been working hard and that's important and I'll keep doing it knowing the goals will start to come again." His dog - reputedly the only one who knows his goal target for the season - was not available for comment.

February 20: With Woodgate and Bowyer facing a hopeless task to get to Brussels for tomorrow's game, DOL faces a tough selection decision. He could simply drop in Eirik Bakke for Bowyer and leave the rest of the side unchanged, or he could also start with Harry Kewell and drop Smith or Matteo to the bench. With Smithy suspended for Saturday's visit to Spurs and with Harry only just back from injury, DOL might decide to start with Smithy and give Harry a brief run from the bench before giving him a full 90 minutes at the weekend.

February 19: Vinnie Jones picked up an acting award tonight - he's been named Best British Actor in the Empire Awards for his role in Snatch.

February 19: Leeds have teamed up with WAP Integrators to actually find a use for those thousands of WAP phones out there - they're marketing them as Leeds United Doorstops. Well, maybe not: they're finally catching up with what quite a few of the portals have been doing for some time and are offering club news, scores and betting opportunities. Hmmm...hope they've got a way to differentiate between the over- and under-18 audience for that sort of thing...

February 19: Leeds Ladies went down 2-1 at Millwall in the League Cup yesterday afternoon. Leeds went 2-0 down shortly after half-time, but 3 substitutions helped turn the tide and United pulled a goal back. Unfortunately, 3 subsequent injuries left Leeds with just 10 players on the pitch - two of them hobbled - and they couldn't manage to pull back the 2nd goal.

February 19: Trial update. A witness at the trial said that he was afraid that he and his family would be subject to intimidation for pointing the finger at the 3 Leeds footballers in court. Andrew Clarke, who made no mention of Jonathan Woodgate attacking student Sarfraz Najeib in his statement to the police shortly after the attack, but who told the jury that Woodgate had attacked the victim, said: "I did not want my family to be intimidated like this. I have three young children and with my name being in the papers they are going to get a lot of grief." Another witness - a bar-worker - said that he'd recognised Bowyer and Woodgate on TV after he had allegedly seen the attack. The witness suggested that Bowyer had been the one who had bitten Sarfraz Najeib's face, despite evidence that the bite-marks did not match Bowyer's teeth. Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Bowyer and Tony Hackworth all deny grievous bodily harm with intent and affray along with 2 other co-defendants, Neal Caveney and Paul Clifford.

February 19: DOL opted out of the Leeds/Anderlecht slanging match. Unlike his Belgian counterpart, he appears to have a bit of respect for the opposition. DOL said: "They showed at Elland Road what a good footballing side they are and I'm sure they will be looking to get forward even more on Wednesday because they badly need a win to boost their chances of qualifying for the quarter finals."

February 19: Jan Koller found his scoring boots at the weekend after bearing the brunt of his team-mates' and manager's criticism for last week's failure to take anything away from Elland Road. The giant Czech striker scored a hat-trick as Anderlecht hammered Harelbeke 4-1, extending their lead at the top of the league with Club Brugge only managing a draw. Lazio kept up their push for a Champions League berth next year with Simeone scoring the only goal of the game in the 89th minute at Perugia: they remain two points behind Juve, but third place looks fairly secure as they have a six point cushion ahead of Atalanta.

February 19: More random rumours from the weekend. Leeds, Sunderland and half the premiership are after PSV's young Danish right- winger Dennis Rommedahl. It would certainly make sense for Leeds to get a bit of right-side balance, but how much money is left in the transfer kitty is another question. Meanwhile Robbie Keane has once again stressed that he will not be going back to Inter at the end of the season: he's signed a 5 year deal for Leeds and that's the end of the story - honest! The fact that Keane is looking good at Leeds while his team-mates struggle (a 0-1 defeat against 10-man Napoli yesterday) serves to prolong these rumours.

February 18: Anderlecht coach Aime Antheunis claims that Leeds "are not a good side", and that defeat by Leeds was so much more disappointing than being beaten in Madrid or Manchester United. He added: "Everything is not lost as we have three games to play but, if we can beat Manchester United, we can beat Leeds in Brussels."

February 18: JFH - who added to his good scoring record against Arsenal today, but ended up on the losing side - has said that he hoped that Leeds fans would eventually forgive him for running off to chase the fattest cheque he could find. He said: "The most disappointing part of my career was the way the Leeds fans reacted when I left. They didn't really know what went on and I have to admit I still don't really know either." Well duh! Memo to Jimmy: You asked to be made the highest paid player in the country and then stomped off when we said no! And your agent was lining up your exit for at least 3 months before you went. Or maybe something totally different happened in a parallel universe.

February 18: After last week's rumours that Nigel Martyn could be heading to Liverpool, the Fleet Street feeding frenzy is in full cry around Leeds number one keeper. Fulham's Jan Tigana is the latest manager linked with Nige, but the price that people seem to be prepared to pay is heading south: it's suggested that Mohammed Al-Fayed's wallet will only stretch to £3 million.

February 17: Football fans are a fickle bunch. A month ago, DOL was facing discontent from the terraces and the team weren't performing remotely near the best. Now we're back on the edges of qualification for the UEFA Cup, we've got a reasonable chance of making it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and everything is wonderful. DOL was realistic about what we've achieved so far and what we can get out of the season: "So much has conspired against us this season with short and long-term injuries, some below-par performances and other distractions that, realistically, anything we get out of it will be a bonus. If we can get a UEFA Cup place then I would be more than happy with that." He added: "Certainly we will not be at our best until next season, when all the long-term casualties are back and hopefully fit and firing. I think we will have a very decent team next time around." We've not got too bad an outfit this year - it's just been frustrating to see them not doing what we know they can.

February 17: Looks like we've achieved a decent balance with Soccer Australia now. They've got a friendly lined up against Colombia at the end of the month, and Frank Farina has only requested the services of Jacob Burns: with the Champions League games at Anderlecht and Real Madrid, and the home league game against Manchester United to be played around the date in question, the Socceroo's coach has generously decided not to insist on calling up Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.

February 17: South Africa's national coach Carlos Queiroz has hit out at agent Gary Blumberg. Queiroz noted that just about all the South African players who were talking about retiring from internationals to focus on their European club sides were on Blumberg's books. He also had a sideswipe at DOL - who denies having encouraged Lucas to turn his back on his country. Although he's not questioning the loyalty of his players, he's unhappy that he's missing so many of the mainstays of his side for next weekend's World Cup qualifier with Malawi.

February 16: Former Leeds midfielder David Rocastle is battling against cancer: he has been diagnosed as having non-Hodgkins lymphoma and is currently undergoing treatment. Rocky was signed from Arsenal in the close season after Leeds had taken the Championship with the idea that he would replace Gordon Strachan in midfield. Strach lasted much longer than anyone thought he would, and Rocky found himself on the fringes of the first team before moving on to Manchester City and Chelsea.

February 16: Like many other teams who find themselves at a loose end as a result of being ejected from the FA Cup, Leeds have taken the opportunity to fly off for a warm weather break, to do some light training and gather themselves up for the most important couple of weeks of the season.

February 16: Alan Smith will actually be suspended for the Spurs game next week rather than the Man U game as previously reported. Also missing the Spurs game will be Lucas Radebe, but he won't be taking advantage of his freedom to appear for South Africa against Malawi, as he will be playing in the Champions League game in Anderlecht on the Wednesday and it would be difficult to fit in the journey and allow sufficient time for him to recover before the game. Speaking of Anderlecht, the fur is flying a bit over there, with Jan Koller being picked out by the press, club officials and other players as the scapegoat for their failure to take any points away from Elland Road. Since being named Belgian Player of the Year last year, the tall Czech has had an increasing number of off-field engagements that some feel are distracting him from his day job.

February 16: Two witnesses at the trial today painted a contrasting picture of the behaviour of Jon Woodgate during the evening under examination. While still in the club, he had acted as a peacemaker, calming down one of his friends who was on the point of starting a fight with some other people in the club. A taxi driver gave evidence that he saw Woodgate staggering, trying to get into a taxi, with a swollen face and apparently drunk. A window-cleaner who was on a late shift in the city centre told the court that he had seen Woodgate aim a kick at a youth, but failed to make contact and fell over. He also gave details of a chase in which one group of men chased and caught up with some of another group and of an ensuing fight. Under cross-examination by Woodgate's barrister, the witness admitted that several of the details he gave in evidence were not in the statement he had given to the police shortly after the attack had taken place. When asked why he had not mentioned this at the time, the witness replied: "I have no idea." The trial continues on Monday.

February 16: No-cost publicity department. Peter Ridsdale apologised to the fans for the lack of tickets for the two upcoming Champions League away games. The obvious aim is to deter fans from travelling in the hope of buying tickets at the ground - which in the case of Anderlecht with a 20-odd thousand capacity is a message that has been taken on board. However, the claim that there won't be any spare tickets at the 100,000-capacity Bernabeu is a little hard to take. Sure, the season ticket holders there are entitled to their seats for all the games, but there's a very good chance that 5% of them might be persuaded to part with their tickets, and if the Spanish police have any sense they'll have planned for this and there will be an empty pen in the ground ready for a couple of thousand Leeds fans.

February 15: What planet are they on? The FA have upheld Marcus Stewart's 3-match ban for the red card he received for a foul on Ian Harte at Portman Road a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't the best tackle in the world, but if he's getting a ban for it, how long before the dozens of worse tackles we've seen (and dished out) are similarly penalised? The silence from the FA is deafening and expected.

February 15: "Earth to Anderlecht - come in please!" Eirik Bakke reckons that Anderlecht coach Aime Antheunis is from another planet. The Belgian coach reckoned that his side deserved a 1-0 win, but as Bakke pointed out: "Anderlecht came to take one point and applied quite a defensive strategy. They were exhausted, though, and couldn't keep going after 75 minutes, and we won deservingly."

February 15: The jury in Hull today heard evidence from the doorman at the Majestyk. He stated that he had seen Woodgate come out to assist a friend who had been ejected from the club for being drunk. Woodgate's friend had been abused, then punched in the face by one of a group of men which included the alleged victim of the assault, Sarfraz Najeib. Another witness claimed that she had seen a group of men, two of whom someone pointed out to her were Woodgate and Bowyer, jogging along Boar Lane at some point in the evening.

February 15: The reserves were defeated 0-2 by Manchester City at "home" at York City's Bootham Crescent ground last night. City had a fairly strong side out, but Paul Robinson was left looking a bit silly for the first, losing the ball by the corner flag. Robbo couldn't do much about the second though: it came from the penalty spot after Shane Cansdell-Sheriff had upended one of the City attackers. Jon Woodgate was one of several first-teamers playing for the reserves who have now more or less blown their chances of winning the Reserve League title.

February 14: In between terrorising old ladies and rampaging across the continent in a booze-induced stupor, there are a few Leeds fans out there doing quite a bit of good in the world. Marcus Oxley is currently out in India helping clear up the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake and distribute food and medical aid to the people whose lives have been devastated by the tremor. Read his story here or help Marcus and the Disasters Emergency Committee bring some relief to the people out there by making a donation at their website.

February 14: Leeds Ladies' success story continues. They're now top of the FA Premier League Northern Division after a 5-2 win over the then-leaders Oldham and look to be in poll position for promotion. They're visiting Millwall on Sunday for a quarter-final tie in the AXA Premier League Cup.

February 14: Next week's game against Anderlecht will only be shown on network TV in the YTV region - everyone else will get the Arsenal game. Anderlecht v Leeds will be shown live on ITV2, so if you've got cable or satellite (or a friendly landlord) you should be able to see it live without too much difficulty.

February 14: Bradford news: the home game against Bradford clashes with the Champions League quarter-finals - so let's hope that we have to reschedule it! David Wetherall is close to a comeback for the Bantams after missing nearly 3 months with an injury.

February 14: The trial continued in Hull today, with a student - who has not been named "for legal reasons" - breaking down in tears as he gave evidence about the attack on his friend, Sarfraz Najeib. "I saw a group of men in a semi-circle around something at the top of Mill Hill," he said. From the quotes in the reports, it doesn't seem as if he was specifically able to identify Woodgate, Hackworth or Bowyer as being members of that group, although he had previously recognised Woodgate standing with a group of men outside the Majestyk.

February 14: Anderlecht coach Aime Antheunis was disappointed but not downhearted after last night's game. He said: "Every game is difficult but on what I have seen tonight I think we will have our chance to win when we meet Leeds at home." Having managed a victory over Manchester United in Belgium, that's no idle boast and Leeds will have to be wary when the return leg is played next week. Rio was happy to get his first taste of Champions League football, but he echoed concerns about next week's game: "I really enjoyed the experience. It was a great feeling to get the win and it was great to get three points against a very good side. That was the most important thing because we face a tough match next week in Belgium."

February 14: Paul Robinson has quickly moved to deny reports in the press that he has handed in a transfer request. He said: "I'm very, very happy at Leeds and I've no reason whatsoever to hand in a request. I've been at Leeds since I was 14. I've supported them as a boy and it's just been a dream come true having played 20 games for them this season." As he had previously said that, although he knows he needs to be the first-choice keeper to get himself in the England frame, he's not going to walk away just because DOL currently favours Nigel Martyn's experience and skills. He added: "I'm not the sort of person to spit my dummy out just because I've been left out. Now it's all about working hard and hopefully the rewards will come because I've had a taste of being in the side."

February 14: Eirik Bakke has been named in Norway's squad for their game against Northern Ireland in Belfast at the end of the month. In the Norwegian U-21 squad, you'll also find John Arne Riise (sorry, can't go for a month without mentioning him) and Brann's Azar Karadas, in whom we no longer seem to be interested. Ian Harte and Robbie Keane are in Mick McCarthy's squad for the friendly against Denmark on the same day.

February 13: DOL was understandably pleased with the performance and the result. "We were then sparked again by Ian Harte's free-kick, and then came that wonderful goal from Lee Bowyer." He added: "We are looking to beat Anderlecht and hopefully do the same against Lazio here, and although I know we can play better, we are keeping it going in the Champions League." Time for a well-earned break for all the players and management now ahead of the return leg next week. Have a nice rest guys - you deserve it. Speaking of rest, I think it's time for bed....

February 13: Roller-coaster night. Having enjoyed much of the possession, it was a killer to see us concede such a soft goal. But the team buckled down, the crowd got behind them, and Ian Harte's scorching free-kick brought us level, and with 3 minutes to go, Lee Bowyer capitalised on a defensive mistake to net the winner. His late booking means he now misses the return next week (though how he'd have managed to get to Brussels from Hull in less than 2 hours is open to question). Harry Kewell made a welcome return, revitalising the crowd at least with his enthusiasm, and the ref sensibly decided not to add on the 4-5 minutes that the visitors had wasted before we managed to equalise and put the pressure on. Another top night!

February 13: Peter Ridsdale denies department, part 3. Nigel Martyn won't be going anywhere, despite Liverpool's apparent interest in signing the 34-year-old. And Danny Mills is just as much a part of the current plans: a move to Leicester is not on the cards.

February 13: Paul Robinson and Rio Ferdinand are both keen to stay in the forefront of Sven-Goran Erickson's thoughts, with the Swede's first England squad due to be named this week. Robbo has been back on the bench with the return to fitness of Nigel Martyn, but Nige has made a couple of mistakes since his return that must give the youngster hope of a recall - which he'll be wanting if he is to press his England claims. He said: "In the short term I don't think it is a problem, but it will become a worry the longer it happens. You would have to ask Mr Eriksson what he thinks, but not many reserve goalkeepers play for England." A home win against Anderlecht will go a long way towards setting up a quarter-final place: anything less and the Belgians will be sitting pretty instead. And having faced Barca, AC Milan, Lazio and Real Madrid already this season, there's a danger of complacency creeping in with "only" Anderlecht being the opponents this time round. Rio won't be resting on his laurels though: he will make his Champions League debut and will face the giant Czech striker Jan Koller, who Sunderland see as a possible replacement for their current tall guy, Niall Quinn. As Rio rightly points out though: "Although I've been happy with my own game since I arrived, it's not about me; it's all about the team, and I admit we've not been firing on all cylinders recently." To stretch his imagery to breaking point, let's hope that the engine is well-tuned and the players ready for the lights to go green at 7:45 tonight.

February 12: Mel Sterland is keen for his boss from Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday - the 57-year-old Howard Wilkinson - to take over at Hillsborough after the dismissal of Paul Jewell. Wednesday's form has been abysmal and sees them flirting with relegation from Division 1, and Sterland said of his former boss: "He will be gutted about what is going on now." He continued: "It saddens me to say but I think Wednesday are doomed and it's a really big job for whoever takes over permanently." Peter Shreeves is back in charge as caretaker for the moment, but with the prospect of nosy MPs sticking their oars in, it's hard to see just who the Owls could attract for what looks to be a poisoned chalice.

February 12: Former Leeds skipper Gary McAllister has been revitalised by his switch to Liverpool, and it seems he's now prepared to come out of his self-declared retirement from international football at the age of 36. His form has been excellent this season, and Craig Brown is keen to hear from the man himself if he wants to make his international comeback.

February 12: Nearly a year after the tragic murder of Kevin Speight and Chris Loftus in Istanbul, Braim Wood High School in Oakwood is organising a trip out to Turkey. The trip will include a couple of football matches against a local high school and against Galatasaray's junior side, with the support of GS president Farouk Sëren. The football is a side issue for the trip: it's being organised by the Design and Technology Department of the school, and will look at local factories and boat-building operations as part of the pupils' GNVQ course. Department head Gareth Bowen is also hoping it will break down the one-dimensional and slightly bigoted view of Turkey that has built up after last year's stabbing, and is hoping to find sponsorship for the trip from local companies.

February 12: DOL sounds realistic about our prospects ahead of tomorrow's game against Anderlecht. "We all want to be in Europe again next season, be it in the Champions League or the UEFA Cup, but if we do qualify it will be a real get-out-of-jail card. It's a salvage operation to achieve it." But DOL's got an ace up his sleeve in Alan Smith. Smithy scored the vital goal in Lazio and hasn't scored since, but he's not letting it get him down. DOL said: "Alan's enthusiasm knows no bounds. He treats the five-a-sides in training like a European Cup final." Maybe one day he'll have the chance to experience the real thing.

February 12: Team news for tomorrow night indicates that Danny Mills will come back after missing out on Saturday with a stomach upset. Harry Kewell's comeback will continue with at least a place on the bench, but DOL might find himself struggling to field a full complement of benchwarmers. With Robbie Keane not registered for Europe, Alan Smith will return to the starting line-up alongside Mark Viduka up front as both look to end their dry spells in front of goal. Anderlecht have a couple of major absentees: keeper Filip de Wilde has a broken bone (foot or hand depending on which report you read) and centreback Olivier Doll has a leg injury. Anderlecht now top the Belgian league, having caught up with and passed Club Brugge over the last month.

February 12: The jury was sworn in today and the prosecution started to present its case in the trial in Hull. The story that the Crown is presenting so far is of the Leeds players and Jon Woodgate's mates being out on a major drinking session, then - for some unspecified reason - chasing down a group of students. Lee Bowyer and Jon Woodgate were allegedly following up the chase, and the prosecution picked out Woodgate as inflicting a specific attack on the main victim, but as yet has not detailed what it alleges Lee Bowyer's involvment in the assault was. The case continues tomorrow, and Bowyer is likely to appear in the Anderlecht game in the evening.

February 12: D'oh! Smithy's booking against Derby on Saturday means that he misses the Man U game on March 3.

February 11: Rio is looking forward to playing Anderlecht in the Champions League this week. "I want to play against the best. It will enable me to judge just how far I've come because I've not played in Europe on a proper stage like the Champions League before." Don't worry Rio - we'll have you competing in the InterToto again soon... Meanwhile, DOL is looking forward to having Harry Kewell in the squad for the rest of the season. The manager said: "You need that individual brilliance - someone who can go off, do their own thing and score a goal."

February 11: The U-19 team went down 0-2 at home to Newcastle at the weekend.

February 11: AS Roma are rumoured to be setting up a bid for Mark Viduka that could more than double the amount Leeds paid for him just a few months ago. Although he's on a bit of a lean streak at the moment, the goals he's scored since his arrival from Celtic have impressed many managers, and Roma are said to be lining up a bid of £16 million plus all the pizzas he can eat.

February 10: DOL was delighted with Harry Kewell's return today. The manager said: "I do think that when he came on he gave us an edge. He's not even had a reserve game recently, so for all he has done in training he looked good during his time on the pitch." Jim Smith was over the moon with the result that his team managed to grind out. "We had a bit of luck at times and the keeper made a couple of good saves, but it was a really strong performance in terms of character." By all accounts, Andy Oakes was the man of the match, making what one commentator described as the "save of the season" from a Leeds shot late on.

February 10: Feelgood story on 606 tonight: Scandi fan who works on the trawlers and comes whenever he's in England. Came to the ground, bought his ticket, then managed to lose it. He asked the police if anyone had handed one in, he'd given up hope and sat himself down to listen to the match on the radio in his car. Ten minutes later, along came the police with a match ticket: they'd clubbed together to buy him one. Shame the team couldn't reward the generosity of the police and the loyalty of this fan with a win.

February 10: Danny Mills was out sick, Harry Kewell returned and Leeds dominated possession and territory. DOL finally succumbed to our requests to try Smithy and Keane together at some point. But the 46-game run since our last home goalless draw comes to an end against the last team to effect a shut-out. This is 2 more points dropped which ever way you look at it and although we move up the table, it doesn't really advance our chances of European football next year.

February 09: Where have you all got to? There are still 4000 tickets left for the Anderlecht home game on Tuesday night. Come on folks - this is a big European game here - get your fingers dialling and order those tickets.

February 09: Derby preview: with the possible exception of Harry Kewell returning to the bench, it's unlikely Leeds will be changed from the squad that appeared at Everton. For Derby, Mart Poom, and Seth Johnson will almost certainly be missing, Darryl Powell is set to return after missing their midweek defeat at Blackburn with a facial injury and Craig Burley faces a late fitness test on a calf injury.

February 09: Rio Ferdinand has been formally added to Leeds' 25-man Champions League squad for the remaining 3 games (and more if we're lucky!!!).

February 09: Ridsdale denies department. Michael Bridges isn't going anywhere - at least not until the summer when DOL takes a look at the squad and PR has to figure out where the balance of Robbie Keane's fee is coming from. And the Aussie deal is still on, despite what had been reported recently - Leeds executives will be having a further meeting with the preferred candidate in early March.

February 09: Let's hope the Carling Curse doesn't strike tomorrow: Robbie Keane will pick up the Carling Player of the Month award for January for his goal-scoring exploits since his return from Inter. Smithy was voted Player of the Month for August and has barely scored since.

February 08: So, where's this Kewell bloke got to then? With a limited set of players available for the Champions League - and that set reduced by injuries to Michael Duberry, Danny Hay, Michael Bridges and Stephen McPhail, DOL may find himself naming Harry on the bench on Tuesday night as emergency cover. It's hardly an ideal return to the side, with little or no opportunity to regain match fitness, and DOL thinks it's likely to be next season before we see him remotely close to being back to his best.

February 08: Leeds Sporting have had their interest in taking a controlling stake in Sydney Olympic squashed by the current owners. Leeds had offered £2 million for a 51% stake in the club, but the owners wanted to maintain control. A business relationship isn't out of the question, but Leeds have other irons in the fire, and Brisbane Strikers may be a more willing partner.

February 08: The Youth Team went down 1-0 at Villa Park last night in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup. Simon Johnson hit the post for the youngsters late on, but the equaliser never came.

February 08: Impacts and abrasions dept: Smithy went on the record to apologise to Richard Gough for catching him with his elbow as they both challenged for the ball in the air last night. The young striker said: "I didn't mean to catch him and obviously I apologised afterwards. I'd never deliberately try to do something like that." Unless he was really wound up of course... Meanwhile Patrick Vieira received a one-match ban for lashing out with his boot at Olivier Dacourt's face in the clash at Elland Road. Ref Dermot Gallagher had not seen the incident, but had pronounced himself satisfied that there was no particular malice, and Olivier Dacourt had written to the FA stating that he didn't think it was deliberate - but the video panel decided otherwise. Another incident in the game saw Vieira go head to head with Eirik Bakke, but the panel decided there was nothing that needed further action there.

February 08: Lucas Radebe will miss the Spurs game at White Hart Lane after picking up a yellow card at Goodison last night. It's his 7th booking of the season (two adding up to a red in the Leicester debacle).

February 07: Ian Harte redeemed an otherwise abysmal performance with a goal, and if Erickson did turn up, he'll almost certainly have been persuaded that Danny Mills must be one of the best available English rightbacks. Nige will have done himself no favours by flapping at the ball to gift Everton their first goal, but the defence were by no means blameless: Lucas having another sub-par performance and Rio's air shot at the end nearly dumping the game in Everton's lap. Very disappointing not to win - Everton looked to be one of the worst sides we've played this year, and as for the pitch: we'd have been better in the middle of Stanley Park! Don't get me started on the ref and his assistants either - mainly cos it's now 2 a.m. and I'll still be ranting about it by the time I have to leave for work in the morning....

February 07: The trial at Hull seems to have stalled or gone quiet a little, so it's now likely that Lee Bowyer will be available for tonight's game.

February 07: Leeds' Championship-winning centreback Chris Fairclough has retired from the game due to long-term calf and hamstring injuries. Fairclough, who was one of the mainstays of the defence during the promotion and Championship seasons and had been at York City for the last two years.

February 06: The Youth team meet Villa at Villa Park in the quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup tomorrow night. If I get stuck on the M6 on the way up to Everton I might just drop in and watch this instead...

February 06: Hassan Kachloul has received a one-match ban and a fine of £2000 for the attack on Lee Bowyer at The Dell after the Moroccan had already received his marching orders. Kachloul had blamed Bowyer for an ongoing feud between the two that set off the incident: obviously the FA didn't completely believe that line.

February 06: Olivier Dacourt is looking forward to tomorrow's game against his old team-mates of Everton, and is hoping that DOL thinks he's done enough to retain his place. "I have taken the criticism personally, when David O'Leary says we have been out-battled in games because that is my job. But all the players have to be together not just one or two of us." Meanwhile Eirik Bakke is keeping his fingers crossed that he can regain his place (which may be a formality if Lee Bowyer's trans-Pennine dash gets held up). Bakke was on the bench at Ipswich, but wasn't too upset about it: "You have to expect that at a big club where we rotate in order to please everyone. I've also had a slight thigh injury over the last two weeks, so I didn't mind some rest. As I've been an Everton fan since I was a kid tomorrow will be quite special for me."

February 06: Let's hope that the relationship that Peter Ridsdale formed with the Soccer Australia authorities was a strong one. The Socceroos are set to play a friendly against Mexico in California on the same day as Leeds are scheduled to face Anderlecht in Belgium. Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell would almost certainly be called in for the friendly, but there's no doubt that Leeds will strongly resist any attempt to call up players for a game like this.

February 06: Michael Bridges is one step closer to returning after he started running again in training. He joins Harry Kewell's near-match-fitness and Stephen McPhail's bike-riding as our long-term injury list gradually shrinks, and there's an outside possibility that Bridges may be back before the end of the season.

February 05: Marcus Stewart will be appealing against the red card he received on Saturday for a foul on Ian Harte. "I will definitely appeal against the decision. I barely touched the lad. He went about 50 feet up in the air..." said Stewart. The TV replays seem to bear out that much, but the question of intent remains: if Ian Harte hadn't tried to jump over Stewart's tackle, it was the sort of challenge that could easily have ended his season - if not his career.

February 05: No surprises at the winner of the January Player of the Month poll: Robbie Keane by a country mile with Lee Bowyer ahead of the rest for second place.

February 05: Duncan Ferguson is hoping to be fit in time for Leeds' visit to Goodison on Wednesday. Ferguson missed the Toffees' visit to Old Trafford at the weekend and is close to a return against the club that nearly bought him a few years ago. Stephen Hughes is also close to match fitness, but Mark Viduka can breathe a sigh of relief: Paul Gascoigne won't be playing, so Viduka will not have any competition on the pie-munching front.

February 05: Nigel Martyn, David Batty, Ian Harte and Paul Robinson were (insert spherical-object-related gag here...) today as they helped launch a cancer awareness campaign. The Dads and Lads Mens Cancer Awareness Week aims to encourage men of all ages to check for the signs of testicular and prostate cancer - two increasingly large-scale killers. So now all the lads out there have a good excuse to have a scratch in public... ;-)

February 05: Just how fit is Harry Kewell? Not at all, according to DOL: "Harry is not fit by a mile yet. He wasn't ready to play in the reserves last week and he's got quite a while to go yet." So Anderlecht is looking to be out of the question barring a miracle, and Sunderland seem to have been scared off by the price tag on the Belgian side's giant striker Jan Koller, so they look like they'll be close to full strength for both games.

February 05: So how is Lee Bowyer going to make it from one side of the country to the other on Wednesday? At least I've got all afternoon to get up from London, but Bowyer will have to make the journey from Hull to Liverpool in 2 hours - which could end up in another court appearance for speeding. Private jet (or personal jet-pack) seems to be the only way he'll manage it, and even then it could be cutting it a bit too fine.

February 05: Mills for England? Sven Goran Erickson's assistant Tord Grip was impressed with Danny Mills in the Ipswich game and he and Erickson will be watching him closely over the next couple of games to see if they think he's worth a call-up. Grip said: "I was impressed with him because he looks solid, comfortable and gets forward. He was the player who stood out for me."

February 04: With the international retirement of Tony Adams, Rio is looking to get himself in the frame as his long-term replacement in the eyes of coach Erickson. "Obviously I do want to secure a regular place in the England side now. You always have to have that self-belief in your ability and if you don't, then you've got a problem." Erickson was at Portman Road on Saturday, so will have had the chance to make up his own mind, but with the limited set of in-form, fit alternatives, Rio must be in the running to start in the friendly against Spain.

February 04: Leeds Ladies are due to play Garwood Saints this afternoon and will be hoping to repeat the 6-1 thrashing inflicted on their opponents earlier this season. Leeds are currently 3 points behind league leaders Oldham, but have two games in hand and are pressing strongly for promotion.

February 04: "Not bad for a team in crisis!" was DOL's verdict on the game. He also agreed with George Burley that Marcus Stewart's red card for the challenge on Ian Harte was a little harsh (but since neither the ref nor his assistants saw or punished half a dozen pull-backs on Keane and Viduka to deny them goal-scoring opportunities, I guess that makes us even). DOL was particularly effusive in his praise for Lee Bowyer: "He's a fantastic player and he's doing so well for us."

February 03: There are some days when you just can't figure out how you managed to win - and today is one of them. We were barely in the game in the first half, but a Mark Venus og from a Bowyer cross and another goal for Robbie Keane after good work from Bowyer and Mills had us two up at the break. A free kick for a non-foul by Lucas Radebe let Mark Venus get Ipswich back in contention, and even when Marcus Stewart had been shown a red card by the ref (after consulting his linesman who was 2 yards from the incident) for a spiteful late challenge on Ian Harte, the Tractor Boys always looked like they'd get back into the game. A late disallowed goal for Mark Viduka after Alan Smith unselfishly passed to him could have been followed by a real goal if Viduka had shown the same generosity to Smith in return: the pie-man shot and we had to endure another couple of minutes of nail- biting. Nige was awesome, Rio did pretty well, and whatever anyone else may say, you can never fault Danny Mills for commitment and work-rate. Ipswich passed the ball well, but Bowyer and Keane were a class apart and made the difference for Leeds today.

February 02: DOL is dangling the European carrot and waving the InterToto stick at the team as we get into the crucial part of the season. Obviously, we've got the Champions League still on the go, but the aim must be to ensure we qualify for Europe in some way, and DOL said: "I've heard it rumoured down a few corridors that if we don't qualify, the plc wants us to enter the Intertoto...". Personally I wouldn't mind seeing us play a few vaguely competitive games against the 4th-placed side in Belgium or the champions of Ruritania instead of the usual summer strolls against Swedish 3rd Division sides and Finnish non-leaguers. We needn't play a full-strength squad, we give the youngsters a chance and we still stand a decent chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup: if it's good enough for Juve, it should be good enough for us.

February 02: SAFA chief Danny Jordaan pronounced himself happy with the conclusion of the negotiations with Leeds over Lucas Radebe's future on his return to South Africa today. He said DOL had been "very reasonable", and added: "We have certainly opened up a better line of communication and are very happy with the warm reception we got." Lucas will miss the next two qualifiers - against Malawi and Guinea, but he will be available for several of the 6 World Cup and 3 African Nations Cup qualifiers to be played in the next 6 months, and the SAFA will be trying to move the date of some of the fixtures to coincide with a break in the European calendar - to the benefit of all their Europe-based players and their clubs, not just Lucas and Leeds.

February 02: Jim Magilton and Titus Bramble have been named in the squad for tomorrow's game at Portman Road despite hamstring and shin problems respectively. Ipswich will be looking to break out of a run of 3 defeats, and top scorer Marcus Stewart's 17 goals remind the Leeds defence that they could have a busy day.

February 02: Fight! Fight! Fight! That's the message from Nigel Martyn to Paul Robinson and from Jason Wilcox to the rest of the team. Nige said: "Paul is not the kind to let his head drop and if he did he would get a right kick up the backside from me." The pressure of knowing that Robbo could be back in if he makes a mistake keeps Nige sharp, but equally he can be confident that if his form drops or if he picks up another injury, we have one of the best keepers in the country waiting in reserve. Wilcox meanwhile thinks that Leeds have been outmuscled too often in games this season, and that the team need to knuckle down and battle for the points and a European place. "Last season we managed to win even when the performances didn't warrant it. This year we haven't picked up results when we've played badly."

February 02: A young reserves side went down 3-0 to Manchester United at Gigg Lane last night. Leeds are now 3rd in the table, 3 points behind Man U but with a game in hand. There was no place in the side for Harry Kewell, but he could travel down to Ipswich with a view to taking a place on the bench - which could be the only way for him to get back to full match fitness before the CL games, since there are no more reserve matches until February 14.

February 01: Both Fabian Wilnis and Jim Magilton look set to miss out when Leeds visit Ipswich on Saturday. Wilnis was absent from the side that went down at St Andrews last night, while Magilton was replaced in extra time - both men suffering from hamstring injuries. Meanwhile, Leeds new medical team may be doing a good job - but they're certainly being kept busy. Just as Harry Kewell leaves a space in the treatment room, his place is taken by Alan Maybury: DOL is once again wondering if he'll be able to field a full complement of subs for the Anderlecht game in 2 weeks.

February 01: DOL's been taking those optimism tablets again (maybe I could do with a dose). We're still in with a chance of a Champions League spot according to the manager. DOL said: "There is only one team playing with consistency in the league and that's Manchester United. That's why they are 15 points ahead. The rest are inconsistent - and no other team has been as inconsistent as we have been. If we were to win our game-in-hand that would take us to 38 points. Arsenal have 44." Sounds great, and on last season's form I'd have agreed. This season, I'm not so sure.

February 01: The head of the South African FA, Danny Jordaan, met with Leeds today and agreed that Lucas Radebe could continue to play for his country - but only if there was not a clash with a club fixture. Leeds may allow him some leeway if we have a fully fit and available side, but the principle has been established and that should be the end of any disagreement between the player, the club and his national side.

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Old News

2008:December, November, October, September, August, July, May, April, March
2007:August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2006:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2005:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2004:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2003:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2002:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2001:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
2000:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
1999:December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
1998:December

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